Open Access (free)

Journeying to death

Paul Gilroy’s The Black Atlantic

Laura Chrisman

This chapter emphasizes Paul Gilroy's The Black Atlantic, which reveals that a culture is not specifically African, American, Caribbean or British, but all of these at once, a black Atlantic culture whose themes and techniques transcend ethnicity and nationality to produce something new and, until now, unremarked. Gilroy's concept of a black Atlantic offers a political and cultural corrective that argues for the cross-national, cross-ethnic basis and dynamics of black diasporic identity and culture. His characterisation of nationalism tends not to acknowledge diversities, but, rather, targets generalized ethnicist nationalism as the only kind of contemporary nationalism that afflicts both white and black communities in identical ways. Gilroy's ideology challenges Marxist, economic and philosophical accounts of the development of modernity as a self-contained European process, based on principles and practices of rationality, economic productivism, Enlightenment egalitarianism and wage labour.

Open Access (free)

Sinéad Kennedy

This chapter offers a critical examination of the realities of the Celtic Tiger for Irish women. Changes in capitalism have resulted in a transformation of family structure, sex and sexuality and, ultimately, the lives of Irish women. The principal effect of the feminisation of the workforce has been to increase the already stark class divisions among women. The lack of state-sponsored childcare and its privatised provision discriminate against working-class mothers and force them out of the workforce. Unfortunately, the trade union movement, while continuing to lobby for better childcare facilities, has capitulated to the tax credit solution. An examination of abortion law in Ireland illustrates the difficulties facing many women today and the class forces that operate in Irish society. Ireland's membership of the European Union (EU), infrastructural development and a decreased economic dependence on the United Kingdom had transformed the Irish economy by the late 1970s.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Mark Harvey, Andrew McMeekin and Alan Warde

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on highly contentious issue, that of the use of the intriguing concept of quality. It explores new applications of established theories and adapts theoretical approaches in order to illuminate behaviour in the field of food. The book presents existing disciplinary approaches to understand judgements about taste. It also presents economists' approaches to quality and demand with a view to providing a more adequate and persuasive account. The book shows how complex, and also how almost whimsical, are the social processes involved in convincing people that a product about to be purchased has a particular desired attribute. It considers a form of challenge, orchestrated primarily by groups of agricultural producers, to the conventional industrial food system.

Open Access (free)

Laura Chrisman

This chapter presents an introduction to the study in this book. It is a combination of literary, cultural and theoretical discussions, united by a number of critical concerns and by a desire to engage contemporary postcolonial thinkers in productive dialogue. The chapter emphasizes the broader contexts of anti-colonial nationalism as antecedents and legitimate elements of the field, and addresses the disparagement of formal oppositional political activity within black diaspora, transnational and nationalist studies. Such disparagement takes a number of forms, but frequently involves the suggestion that these organized mobilisations work against the interest of subaltern masses and share the repressive values of patriarchal, racist and capitalist bourgeois society. The chapter also argues against static conceptions of ‘empire’, and places an emphasis on the dynamic processes of imperialism as a project of capitalist expansion and political domination. The national particularities of metropoles, as they exoticize, consume and canonize different cultures of the world, bear further critical exploration.

Open Access (free)

Tony Fitzpatrick

This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about the new social democracy (NSD) and about imagining a social democratic future that diverts from the NSD. It examines how social democracy can be reinvigorated. This volume also explores the conjunction of social democracy and post-productivism and discusses the main parameters of ecowelfare ideas. It argues that social democratic capitalism, in its synthesis of economic prosperity, political participation, social justice, and cultural maturity, represents the best form of society that humans have yet managed to create for themselves.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson and Vivien Walsh

This book offers broad conceptual overviews of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand, and consumption. It looks at the sociological literature on consumption, focusing on research that offers alternative or complementary views to the concepts of ‘conspicuous consumption’ and individual choice. It also argues that there is more to the economics of consumption than the mainstream economists' paradigm of utility maximisation, reviews how consumption fits into ‘evolutionary’ models of economic development, examines the routine nature of food consumption, analyses how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity, discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, considers users and how their needs may be incorporated (successfully or otherwise) in the design of high-tech products, and stresses the need to build an economic sociology/political economy of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

Open Access (free)

Innovation by demand

An interdisciplinary approach to the study of demand and its role in innovation

Series:

Edited by: Andrew McMeekin, Ken Green, Mark Tomlinson and Vivien Walsh

This book brings together a range of sociologists and economists to study the role of demand and consumption in the innovative process. Starting with a broad conceptual overview of ways that the sociological and economics literatures address issues of innovation, demand and consumption, it goes on to offer different approaches to the economics of demand and innovation through an evolutionary framework, before reviewing how consumption fits into evolutionary models of economic development. The book then looks at food consumption as an example of innovation by demand, including an examination of the dynamic nature of socially constituted consumption routines. It includes an analysis of how African Americans use consumption to express collective identity and discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation, focusing on how consumer needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. It also argues for the need to build an economic sociology of demand that goes from micro-individual through to macro-structural features.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Leslie Haddon

This chapter discusses the involvement of consumers in innovation. It presents two case studies which detail a number of interesting issues regarding ways that consumers become involved in new product development or longer-term research and development in the information and communication technology sector. In some cases, consumers have been actively involved during new product development. Much more common was later involvement, in the form of product testing and evaluation of interfaces. In other cases, consumers are ‘represented’ through perceptions of consumer behaviour built up by designers and product managers. Given that many product ideas stem from awareness of technological possibilities, consumer feedback is more often in the form of reaction to product proposals rather than generating them. Even in more incremental new product development projects, the information that is collected about consumers can become marginalised relative to other considerations. This chapter concludes that there is evidence of firms attempting to learn about consumers as input to their innovation processes, but that such efforts have so far been rather underdeveloped.

Open Access (free)

Series:

Vivien Walsh, Carole Cohen and Albert Richards

This chapter focuses on users and how their needs may be incorporated in the design of high-tech products. After discussing demand, markets, and user needs and surveying the evolution of user orientation, user-friendliness, user-centred design, and human-machine interaction in the information and communication technology industry, the chapter reports an ethnographic study of telecommunications equipment design. It shows that the job of the design team in a high-tech industry where firms collaborate was just as likely to be the design of the organisational arrangements for the development and delivery of new products and services as the design of the products and services themselves. Design as an activity links many of the functions in the business enterprise and its environment; building such links is an essential part of the design and innovation process. The chapter also demonstrates that usability testing took a very particular form in which to pay attention to users needs. Some unexpected findings were made that had to be incorporated into a future product design.

Open Access (free)

Hyperembedded demand and uneven innovation

Female labour in a male-dominated service industry

Series:

Bonnie H. Erickson

This chapter argues that in service industries such as security, demand for a service is inseparable from the demand for the kind of people seen as suitable for providing the service. One important example is women providing services in sectors that were once dominated by men. The massive movement of women into paid employment can be considered as a significant innovation. The chapter traces such variability of innovation to the complexity of a ‘relational matrix’ within which innovation is embedded. The matrix includes several kinds of key actors such as employers, service providers, potential employees, clients, and targets to whom service work is directed on behalf of clients. Gender distributions either limit or enable innovations. For instance, employers can use female labour in innovative ways only to the extent that they have female service providers on hand or can recruit them from potential employees as well taking into account the appropriateness of gendered roles in the market. An analysis of Canada's security industry is used to explore these issues using various data sources.